Saturday 4 April 2015

Jesus the Nazoraois, Shoot of David

The nezer or olive shoots, with the citation from Is 60:21: "A staff shall grow out of the trunk of Jesse and an offshoot shall flourish from its roots." (Fotos from Neot Kedumim, Israel)

Rossi de Gasperis (E' risorto, non è qui) comments on Mark 16:6: "You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified." Nazareth here is not just the tiny unknown village of Nazareth (less than 400 inhabitants in Jesus' day), but the messianic title Nazoraios, which is often the word used in the gospels (Mt 2:23, 26:71; Lk 18:37; Jn 18:5, 7) and especially in Jn 19:19: Jesus the Nazoraios, King of the Jews. Nazoraios comes from nezer or netzer, which means "shoot", or "shoot of David" (Is 60:21, see the pictures above). So "Jesus, Shoot of David, Son of David, King of the Jews." Makes the reaction of the Jewish leaders even more understandable. [15-16.]

The paradox becomes more acute: Jesus, Son of David, the Crucified. And then: That Crucified One, he is not here, he has been raised. Non è qui, è risorto. [16.]

In contrast to the other gospels, where joy is the overriding sentiment at the resurrection, in the gospel of Mark it is fear. The women are apprehensive as they go to the tomb: who will roll away the stone for us? They enter and see the angel, and they are afraid / are amazed. The angel says to them: do not be afraid (me ekthambeisthe). And after hearing that the Risen one will precede the disciples and Peter to Galilee, they run away from the tomb, filled with fear. And they say nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. [16.]

It is often said that Mark is the evangelist who recounts bare facts, without theological interpretation. It is not true. The key to his theology is that the way in which God presents himself to human beings in Jesus Christ is at first overwhelming, disconcerting, disorienting: it is the scandal of "a Son of God who dies on the cross" (Mk 15:39) and of a glorious crucified victory (Mk 16:6). [17.]

The women do not say anything to anyone. Mark is the gospel of the messianic secret. It is only on Calvary, when Jesus dies after uttering a loud cry, that the centurion confesses: Truly this man was the son of God. The confession of faith in the messianic identity of the crucified one takes place not at his resurrection but in his death. When the resurrection is announced, instead, there is no joy and exultation, but fear. [17.]

Mark is the evangelist of the disproportion between man and the salvation of God. The Gospel of Mark is the decisive cure against any interpretation of the Hebrew-Christian faith as a humanism of continuity. It underlines the fact that the revelation of the true God frustrates the expectations of man, disconcerts him and causes him to flee. This is a classic theme in the Bible. Even in the Apocalypse, at the first Christophany, when Jesus, the Risen One, manifests himself to his friend, the Beloved Disciple, John falls to the ground as if dead. (Ap 1:17) [18-19.]

The fact that the first annunciation of the resurrection is to women is also another disturbing element, given that in Judaism the testimony of women had no legal value in a religious tribunal. [21.]

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